Essential Words and Idioms When Shopping

Shopping is one of the regular activities that people love to do to relax while buying their essentials. However, for some, shopping is a challenge. Some people fret when they shop in a different country because they cannot express their self well in English. Meanwhile, others worry that they might not be able to understand what is being said to them. Afraid of making mistakes, some delay or avoid shopping even when they need to. Good thing that there is a way to avoid this situation. You can learn and familiarize yourself with the different vocabulary and idioms being used in shopping. Knowing these words will help you to anticipate the words that shop assistants or shoppers will be more likely to use when they talk to you. By being able to communicate well, you’ll find shopping as an enjoyable activity instead of a challenge. Moreover, not only will you be able to speak confidently while shopping at the stores but you can also share your shopping experience. You can talk about sales, discounts, favorite stores, and recently bought items with others. This will help you to easily start a casual conversation and connect with different people. In this post, we’ve listed the most commonly used vocabularies and idioms you’ll need when shopping.

Words and idioms that are used to refer to kinds of shopping activity

Window shopping

When you do window shopping, you look at the items for sale in stores, but you don’t have the intention to purchase anything yet. You are more interested in seeing what’s available by looking at things through the window display of the store. You do window shopping because you want to relax and pass time by looking at items that might interest you or you don’t have the budget to buy extra items yet. 


Since the student haven’t received her allowance yet, she  spent the afternoon window shopping

Grocery shopping 

This means shopping for food items at markets or stores. 


Tom’s mother couldn’t stay long because after visiting us she would go grocery shopping.

Retail therapy or shopping therapy 

These two terms mean that you are shopping and buy things to feel better. Some believe that shopping can relieve stress as it brings temporary relief or happiness. This is the reason why some used it as an outlet when dealing with a bad situation.


After hearing the news, Tony was disappointed so he went to his favorite sports store for some shopping therapy.

Shop online

To shop online means that you will buy items from online stores. When you shop online you are engaging in e-commerce. 


Due to her busy schedule, she prefers to shop online than go to brick and mortar stores.


A shopaholic is a person who loves to keep on shopping. This person regularly shops not just because he or she needs to buy something but because he or she really enjoys the act of shopping and obtaining new items.


The newly opened mall will definitely be the favorite place of shopaholics.

Shop til you drop

Shop til you drop is an expression that you use when you like to shop until you get tired. It could also mean shopping until you run out of money to spend. 


She enjoys shopping till she drops, that’s why she complains that her feet hurt and not having enough budget the following day.

Hit the shops

Hit the shops means going to a shop and spending time there to buy an item. It could also mean that a new product will be released in stores.


The advertisement mentioned that the latest compact camera will hit the shops next month. 

Words and idioms that are used to describe malls, markets, and stores

Outlet mall

An outlet mall is a large shopping place that houses different stores in one location. The stores in this mall sell their products at a reduced price. Shoppers go here to find sales and discounts. 


To buy more items at a discounted price, she goes to that outlet mall even though it requires traveling for three hours. 

Shoppers paradise

A place where many items are available and on sale makes people who love to shop excited and happy. This kind of place is called a shopper’s paradise. 


The market on the next street is a shopper’s paradise. It has plenty of items available that are sold at a bargain price. 

Bargain hunting 

Bargain hunting is the act of spending time searching for items to buy at the lowest price.


To be able to buy more items, my friends and I like to go bargain hunting.

Yard sale or garage sale

A garage sale or yard sale is typically seen in front of houses, yards, or garages. The items for sale here include old furniture, clothes, toys, kitchenware, or anything that the owner of the house and his family doesn’t use anymore. 


We’ll drive around the residential area located on the south side of the town to see if there are garage sales.

Words and idioms that are used when you need to try a clothing piece when shopping

Fit like a glove

When you try on clothes or jewelry and it fits perfectly on you, you say fits like a glove.


She bought the dress right away after seeing that the dress fits like a glove on her.

Fitting room 

A fitting room is an area in a shop or department store where you can go to try on clothes.


After she picked her preferred shirt, she went to the fitting room to try it on.

Words and idioms that are used to describe discounts and sales

Unbeatable offer

When you say an unbeatable offer, it means that the price of an item is very low that makes you want to buy it. Thinking that you would not find another store or an opportunity to buy the product at a very low price makes the offer really tempting to grab. 


Even without a plan of buying a new TV, the unbeatable offer made Tommy buy it.

Clearance sale 

This term is used when you refer to a store selling their products at a very low price for a limited time. The purpose why businesses do this is for them to get rid of excessive stocks and make space for new items. Another reason could be because the shop is closing down soon so it has to sell all of its products quickly.


After reading the recent post of the gift shop on their social media, Tracy and Brad went hurriedly to the store to catch its clearance sale before it ends.

A steal

A steal means finding an item that is unexpectedly cheap. Due to the low price of the product, you do not have to pay much for it, which makes buying it feel like a “robbery.”


At $5, this shirt is definitely a steal. 

Killer deal

You say a killer deal when an item is usually priced at a higher price, but you find it unexpectedly being sold at an affordable rate or low price. 


I didn’t expect that this sofa would be sold at nearly 60% off. I couldn’t leave the store without buying it because it’s a killer deal.

Good value for money

When you say good value for money, it means that the item you bought is worth the money you spent on it.


Although organic products are more expensive than usual products, they are good value for money, because they are natural and safer to use.

Good deal

When you say a good deal, it means that you paid for an item at a low price. It is an alternative term that you can use for “a steal”


I was impressed that he was able to buy his car on a really good deal.


The word doorbuster is used when a store is newly opened, and they are selling their products at a discounted price for a limited time. 


The craft supplies store has a lot of doorbusters for this month.


Overpriced means that an item you are buying is expensive or costs more than it is worth. 


The shopper returned the items on the shelves and left the store, after seeing that the products are overpriced

Shopping spree

A shopping spree means that you are buying and spending a lot of money in a short period of time.


To reward the hardworking staff, the owner gave her a $500 gift card to go on a shopping spree

Price tag

Price tag refers to the label that indicates the price of an item being sold in a store.


To have an estimate of how much you will pay, always check the price tag of each item you pick and compute it all before going to the cashier. 

Words and idioms that are used to tell about branding and how products are made


Items that are made by artisans using their hands are handmade. Products that are often handmade include arts, crafts, accessories, etc.


Buying handmade products is one way of supporting local artisans.


When a product is produced using a machine, the term machine-made is used to describe it.


The pattern and counting of stitches on these bags are the same because they are all machine-made.


When an item is designed and made for a particular client it means it is bespoke. This word is usually used by tailoring shops.  


The suit that he was wearing last night fits perfectly on him because it is bespoke.

Brand name

A brand name is a name being used by manufacturers. Typically, the brand name of a product can be seen on its label or container.


My mentor prefers to buy the items under that brand name because likes using proven and tested products.


Suit means that an item looks good on you. Oftentimes it is being used interchangeably with the word “fit”. However, the word “fit” should be used when you are referring to size. 


You should buy this dress. It really suits you. 


The next time you shop there’s no need for you to worry. Strike up a conversation with someone and use the vocabularies and idioms listed above. The more you use them, the more natural and easier for you to include them in your sentences. Learning and using these terms will improve your fluency. Let the list given above be your starting point and add more words to it as you expand your vocabulary.  

Would you like to practice these shopping words in an actual conversation? Avail LingualBox’s two free trials. You will not only be able to use the words above but you’ll also learn more English expressions.  Sign up now.

Kaycie Gayle is a freelance content writer and a digital publisher. Her writings are mostly about, travel, culture, people, food, and communication.